Trans Awareness Week 2022: why it’s needed and how to be an ally to trans and non-binary people?

From November 13 to November 19, issues surroudning trans and gender non-confirming individuals are focused on during Trans Awareness Week, culminating in the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

It’s Trans Awareness Week. Events are taking place throughout the UK, with a particular focus on how to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces. The week long campaign for trans issues culminates in an international Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, 2022.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance brings to light the issue of transphobia around the world where members of the community and allies to the LGBTQI+ community pay their respects to those transgender people who have died due to global transphobic violence.

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Despite there being more acceptance towards the transgender and gender non-conforming people in recent years, homophobic and transphobic attacks still continue to occur around the world. The Human Rights Campaign published figures showing that in 2021 alone, there were 50 confirmed fatalities of individuals who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, with 2022 already accounting for 23 deaths in the community.

That doesn’t include the number of state legislatures that American members of the community have to experience; ten US states passed anti-transgender legislation in 2021 alone. This, combined with the stigma transgender and gender non-conforming people still face from a cultural and social level, from jokes punching down to misconceptions being pushed as fact, has demonstrated the need for Trans Awareness Week once again.

Closer to home, a YouGov poll saw trans people finishing rock bottom of a closed list of 16 issues that the public felt most strongly about, with just 2% of the general public identifying trans people as their top concern. That dipped to just 1% of people who voted Conservative at the last General Election.

In July 2022, the research group Opinium presented more than 500 Conservative members with a closed list of 28 issues and asked them to choose up to four they are passionate about. Trans people, and trans participation in sport, came in at 26 and 27 respectively.

How can I show my support during Trans Awareness Week 2022

One of the simplest ways to show your support during Trans Awareness Week is to acknowledge and use a person’s preferred pronouns. If you’re not sure, just ask! More often than not, an honest slip misgendering someone is not going to see you get cancelled, but constantly addressing someone by the incorrect pronoun repeatedly is where issues lay.

Stonewall also have provided a Trans Hub, offering advice to those who identify as heteronormative or gender conforming how to become an ally to those that are non-binary and transgender. Local LGBTQI+ charities can also offer advice and even events and workshops to help aide in supporting transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

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Stonewall also offered the following ten ways that people can step up as an ally to non-binary people:

  • Introduce yourself with your name and pronouns. Stating your pronouns reminds people that it might not always be immediately obvious what pronouns someone uses
  • Put your pronouns in your email signature or social media profile
  • Instead of addressing groups of people with binary language such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’, try more inclusive alternatives such as ‘folks’, ‘pals’ or ‘everyone’
  • Use words that define the relationship instead of the relationship and gender. For example, use ‘parents’, ‘partner’, ‘children’ or ‘siblings’
  • Not everyone is comfortable with gendered titles such as ‘Ms’ or ‘Mr’. Titles are not always necessary, but if they must be used it’s good to provide alternative ones such as ‘Mx’ (pronounced mix or mux)
  • Use the singular ‘their’ instead of ‘his/her’ in letters and other forms of writing, i.e. ‘when a colleague finishes their work’ as opposed to ‘when a colleague finishes his/her work’
  • Not everyone necessarily uses ‘he’ or ‘she’ pronouns and it’s important to be respectful of people who use different pronouns. The most common gender-neutral pronoun is the singular ‘they’ (they/them/theirs). Using people’s correct pronouns shows that you respect them and who they are
  • Using the pronoun ‘they’ is very useful when someone’s gender or identity is unknown. You will often already be using it without realising, i.e. ‘somebody left their hat, I wonder if they will come back to get it’
  • Make sure that your workplace, school and college policies and documents use inclusive language, i.e. using ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’ and avoiding sentences that imply two genders. Where specifically talking about gender identity, make sure it is inclusive of non-binary gender identities and not just trans men and trans women
  • When highlighting LGBTQ+ people in your events or as role models, make sure you include some non-binary role models too

Who can I talk to if I have issue as a transgender or non gender-confirming person?

If you have issues as a transgender person or a non gender-confirming person, you can contact Mind through their phoneline on 0300 123 3393 or emailed at [email protected].

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Galop also provides helplines and other support for LGBT+ adults and young people who have experienced hate crime, sexual violence or domestic abuse and can be contacted on 0207 704 2040 (LGBT+ hate crime helpline) or 0800 999 5428 (LGBT+ domestic abuse helpline.)